I received this article by Chip MacGregor in my email earlier today and it piqued my interest. In the past I’ve often wondered about my writing voice and I’ve concluded that it is something that happens naturally. I don’t think it can be forced. I suppose one can pretend a voice by writing in a certain style, but after a while your personality kicks in and shouts: “Here’s Johnny!”
Lee Child said, in this interview, only you can write like you and I get that. Your life, who you are, the trials and ordeals that shaped you, all of that inform your writing. Whether anyone else will like your voice is another story, but this is where Chip’s article comes in. You don’t have to write for everyone. You only have to write for someone like you. Pretend you’re writing for your twin and your twin shares all your likes and dislikes. Your twin will love your voice because it’s an identifiable voice, a voice he or she would feel intimately acquainted with, when they hear it.
Both Chip and Lee believe that you shouldn’t write what you think others would like, or in a way you imagine others would want you to write. You should write what you want, and if you do, if you invest yourself in your story and tell it in a way that feels natural to you, the story will come alive. And through that process your voice will be born, and it will be beautiful.
I don’t know what kind of voice I have. I’m too close to the process. Someone will one day tell me, I guess. All I can do is write what I love, what I find fascinating, and write it in a way that seems natural to me, or natural to whatever goes on inside my mind.
Only you can write like you. The rest we leave in the laps of the gods, as Lee Child would say.